Guest Visitor
Sue Weems: Becoming Writer, Editor, Bbp Participant, Winter Writing Contest 2016, Story Cartel Course
Member since June 25, 2015

Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveller with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website.


Recent Writing Pieces

How to Have a Great Break

This week I wrote this short post for my high school students who had their last day of class today before winter break. I shared

Dec 21

Recently Critiqued Posts

Need at Least One Interview Partner

Hi guys! I still need to do my cartel interview and will obviously interview for you in exchange.  I live in Utah (Mountain Standard Time)

Jan 3
The Move

Happy Friday! Below is the short story I wrote for my friend Bill. He asked me more than two years ago to write a series

Dec 21
The Move

Happy Friday! Below is the short story I wrote for my friend Bill. He asked me more than two years ago to write a series

Dec 21
The Blanket

The Blanket By Timothy A. Russell You walk in the sunlight it’s a delight You go home, enjoying the light Plans and ambitions to change

Dec 21
Week 2: Desert Soul (3357 words)

Death by ashes. Death by desert. Death in the ashen desert. Such was his fate. He should’ve accepted it. He should’ve been at peace with

Dec 21
Avian (2189 words)

A’kalli’s owl chick cooed at her as she pet its head. The motion itself was blasphemy, but A’kalli didn’t care. She peeled off the bandage

Dec 21
See Sue's other Write Practice activity outside of the forums
How to Beat All-or-Nothing Thinking and Get More Writing Done

It’s a new year! New goals! New motivation! 

But what happens when an ER visit derails me, a work project explodes and requires far more time than I planned, or I experience some other plan-busting interruption?

Too often, I have an all-or-nothing attitude toward change and progress. If I’ve eaten off the plan for one meal today, I’m far more likely to make unhealthy choices the rest of the day, week, and month. How can I short-circuit this negative thinking pattern and abandon all-or-nothing thinking to get more writing done this year?

Jan 11
How to Use Scars to Deepen Characterization

Sometimes I have students who say they don’t like to write. I suggest that perhaps they haven’t found a subject or story worth writing yet. Then I ask them if they have any scars.

Inevitably, the stories pour out of them, and they point to their arms, their foreheads, and their legs revealing skateboarding mishaps, fights, and sometimes deeper trauma.

Scars often hold an entire world of story. We wanted something and the pursuit of it left a mark.

Giving a character a scar can be a cliché or it can be a fast-track to deeper character development. When you’re creating characters with scars, execution is key.

Dec 14
How to Actually Focus on Writing: The Dangers of Pseudo-Working

Pseudo-working looks like work, but it doesn’t produce much. If you’ve ever been trying to focus on writing an article while checking your phone for social media updates and fielding dinner requests, you’re pseudo-working. (No, I’m not doing that right now, why do you ask?)

Admitting the dangers of pseudo-working has helped me focus and get more writing done in less time. See if it will help you too!

Nov 30
Writing Deadlines: The Unlikely Secret to Creative Freedom

I’m a firm believer in deadlines.

Some will argue that creativity has no end point and that they can’t be inspired if there’s a timeline. If that mindset results in powerful writing and stories that resonate with readers as regularly as you’d like, then go forth and continue with the process that is working for you!

If, however, you can’t seem to finish in the time and manner you desire, a little deadline practice might be just the thing you need to propel your writing forward.

Nov 16
How to Break the Rules for the Best NaNoWriMo Ever

Across the world this week, writers began spinning stories and obsessively checking their word counts, all in pursuit of that magic number: 50,000 words. Every year, I tell myself I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo, and every year, I end up participating anyway.

But a couple years ago, I decided to break the rules and I had the best NaNoWriMo month ever. Maybe you need to break some rules yourself to redefine your writing this month.

Nov 2
Why Multitasking is Killing Your Writing

Many writers I know are overwhelmed and struggle to focus on writing anything. Do I research? Get a draft down? Should I be blogging? Do I need to get a business license? What about social media? What’s for dinner? (Sorry, my kids added that one).

A few years ago, I learned a technique that helped me get a handle on my to do list, and freed me to prioritize my writing. Along with sneaking time to write, learning to write in batches has changed the way I work.

Oct 19
How to Get Story Ideas From Unexpected Headlines

A few years ago, I read a startling headline in a back section of the Sunday newspaper. It said “Man Likely Padlocked Himself in Bag Found in Bathtub.” I blinked twice, sure I had misread something.

Even after I read the article, I still couldn’t believe it. I was grieved for his family and friends, but I couldn’t help but see the possibilities for inspiring fiction. I wondered how it could even be done?  As a claustrophobic, I wondered, why?

This situation and article were surely stranger than fiction, but it prompted so many questions. Turns out questions are at the heart of great fiction, and you can use headlines to develop ideas all day long. Here’s how to get story ideas from the strangest news headlines.

Oct 5
The Editor: The Invisible Hero You Need in the Publishing World

A few months ago, I posted an article about avoiding clichés here on The Write Practice. The (bland) title I proposed was “How to Avoid Clichés.” The published title read: “How to Avoid Clichés (Like the Plague).” I grinned when I read it and said another thank you to a quiet hero of the publishing world: our editor.

She amped up the title with a clever twist that sounded just like me with my penchant for parentheses. Editors are invisible heroes in the publishing world, and knowing what they do can help you through every stage of your journey.

Sept 21
How to Adjust Your Writing Process and Embrace Your Writing Season

Writer’s anxiety is often caused by a belief that I MUST BE WRITING ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME. It simply isn’t true. Even those who write full time recognize that there are seasons to writing, just as there are seasons of life.

Sept 7
How to Ditch Writer’s Guilt and Write Now

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt guilty about something related to writing. (My hand can’t get any higher.) Whether you feel that you aren’t writing enough or feel terrible about neglecting chores while finishing your novel, writer’s guilt is real.

Here are a few ideas for abandoning writer’s guilt to get your work done.

Aug 24
How to Keep Comparing Yourself From Stealing Your Motivation

If you are a writer (and you are), then I know you are reading. As we read both masters and peers, it’s easy to fall into comparison and even disillusionment. How can you learn from your reading without letting it distract you from your own writing journey?

Aug 10
Writing Prompt: Give Your Character an Insecurity

Last week, I overheard a conversation at a neighboring table where a woman said, “He’s always trying to prove himself. It makes him look less competent than he is.” I didn’t know the parties involved, but I grabbed a napkin and jotted it down. When I added it to my notebook, I realized characters with something to prove often undermine their own success. And those insecurities make for an amazing writing prompt.

Jul 27
The Secret to Writing the Middle of a Story

If you’ve ever had the middle of a manuscript sag and feel flabby, congrats. You’re a writer! One of the questions I ask when get stuck in the middle of a manuscript is this: “How can I make this worse for this character?” One of the key elements you might use is the very thing we try so hard to avoid on a daily basis: abrasive people.

How can an abrasive character push your character’s arc, keep the plot moving, and deepen the theme? Read on to find out.

Jul 13
Writing Prompt: Take Your Characters on Vacation

While many novels and stories are set in a vacation location, you can take your character on vacation just to see what they are made of. Vacation can be frightfully stressful and reveals much about us as people. It can do the same for your character. Try it out with this writing prompt.

Jun 29
Writing Partner: How to Finish Your Novel With a Swim Buddy

Whether scuba diving or hiking, experts warn against going out on the water or up the mountain on your own. Why? There’s strength in numbers, and you are more likely to live to tell about your adventure with a swim buddy or hiking partner along. While writing might not carry the physical risks of these outdoor activities, writers can use the same principle to help a writing partner get their writing done.

Jun 15
How to Avoid Clichés (Like the Plague)

We’re on the verge of summer, and that means I’m attending graduations (including my oldest son’s). Whether you are attending one for a friend or family member or yourself, commencement ceremonies are a great place for inspiration and one other thing: cliché-hunting.

Clichés are overused phrases or metaphors that weaken our writing. As writers, we want to hunt down, drag out, and kill clichés in our writing. (I know, the killing metaphor is also probably cliché. I’m still working on it.) Here are some ideas for how to avoid clichés in our writing.

Jun 1
3 Ways to Rediscover the Joy of Writing

Recently, I found myself dreading my scheduled writing time. I was bored with my book, tired of the grind, and angry that my revision was taking so long. I had lost my writing joy. Is it time to abandon a book or project once you lose your joy? Or is there a way to recalibrate and find the fun in your project and the joy of writing again?

May 18
How to Bust Excuses and Focus on Your Writing Like Ray Bradbury

Fill in the blank: I can’t finish my draft because _______. Are you sure that is what is holding you back?

This is one of the busiest months of the year for me. I’m usually disciplined, but there are some especially busy seasons when writing is hard to prioritize. As one of my classes began reading Fahrenheit 451 this month, I remembered a letter Ray Bradbury sent to a librarian about how he wrote the novel. It was just what I needed to get back to finishing my book.

May 4
Poetry Dare: Write a Poem About a Childhood Memory

It’s National Poetry Month! I know, I know. You don’t want to write a poem, but what if I could show you a way to tap into a childhood memory to create a poem or scene that you could use in any kind of writing? Will you accept a poetry dare today?

Apr 20
How to Plan for Writing Rejection

Writers hear the words “No thanks” often. Whether you’ve submitted a story for a contest or a literary magazine or you’ve sent out query letters to agents, you know that sting when the results are published and your name isn’t on the list, or the sinking feeling when you get another reply from an agent, “Sorry, going to pass this time.”

Publishing is fraught with rejection. What if we could stop being afraid of it and instead plan for it as a natural part of our process? Hearing “No” doesn’t have to derail us when we have a plan.

Apr 6